The New Jersey online poker market has not seen any seismic changes recently, but there are likely to be some shakeups in the coming year.
Here comes PokerStars
PokerStars got approval to operate in New Jersey last year. But when exactly it would launch has been mostly a matter of speculation.
Some had theorized that a January launch would make the most sense, but it’s now clear that PokerStars’ parent company, Amaya, is in no rush to get to market. However, the latest sense of launch is in the first half of this year, and perhaps as soon as this month or next.
Poker has seen at least some small signs of stability — and even a bit of growth — but there are hopes that PokerStars could expand the market. Its capacity and desire to do so remains to be seen.
The New Jersey market serves as a foothold for Amaya to get back into the U.S. market, but New Jersey revenue will be a drop in the bucket for the company. A massive marketing push might not be in the cards.
Regardless, it’s been awhile since there’s been a new player in NJ online poker, and its name is already well-known in the U.S. PokerStars’ arrival will certainly move the needle.
No more Borgata + bwin.party?
That has the potential to shift things in New Jersey. In the wake of that news, Borgata is reportedly reconsidering its relationship with bwin.party — translation, it may be coming to an end.
Either way, Borgata’s intentions could change the New Jersey online poker market, and possibly set up a battle for marketshare in a new landscape that pits 888 against PokerStars.
Pennsylvania, and maybe New York?
The momentum or online gaming in nearby states has a chance to affect what happens in New Jersey.
A Pennsylvania gambling expansion bill that includes online poker and gambling appears like it will get serious consideration this year. If that happens, there’s at least a chance — and perhaps a good one — that New Jersey would enter into an interstate compact with Pennsylvania to share liquidity.
Even if legislation does pass, it’s likely sites in PA would not go live until 2017. So an increase in New Jersey’s available player pool is still a ways off.
The other variable? New York, which has suddenly seen interest in online poker regulation ramp up in the past month, could also join the fray.
The short-term progress in New York could just be a building block for discussions down the road — the immediate prospects for passing iPoker legislation are murky at best. But the possibility of a pool of players that includes NY, PA and NJ is certainly interesting to think about.